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Gubernatorial Candidate Announcements

June 25, 2021

This article originally appeared on BIPAC's blog. Written by BIPAC Political Analyst Jim Ellis.

Key Takeaways

  • CO-Sen: Potential Opponent for Sen. Michael Bennet (D)
  • Colorado: Releases First Congressional Redistricting Map
  • IA-2: Six-Vote Loser Rita Hart (D) Not Likely to Seek Re-Match
  • NY-22: Former Rep. Anthony Brindisi (D) Won't Seek Re-Match
  • MA-Gov: Astronaut's Daughter Announces Run for Governor
  • NJ-Gov: New Governor's Race Poll
  • New York City: Results Not Known Until Mid-July
  • Buffalo; Rochester: Mayors Lose Democratic Primaries

Senate

ColoradoTo date, Sen. Michael Bennet (D) has had a free ride to re-election for a third full term, but a potential Republican challenger confirms he is considering launching his candidacy. Air Force veteran Eli Bremer, who represented the United States in the 2008 Summer Olympics in the pentathlon event and will serve as an NBC Sports commentator in the upcoming 2021 games, confirms he met with National Republican Senatorial Committee officials but has yet to make any final decision about running.

House

Colorado: The new Colorado Independent Redistricting Commission released its first preliminary map of the new redistricting cycle using Census Bureau estimates as their basis. While utilizing estimates and sampling is not permitted under a 1996 US Supreme Court ruling, the first draw does give us an idea of where Colorado’s new seat might be placed. Answer: the region north of Denver that includes the Arvada-Westminster-Thornton area, which would serve as the anchor population for the state’s new 8th Congressional District. 

FL-7: Over the past few weeks, Rep. Stephanie Murphy (D-Winter Park) was making news in deciding whether she would run statewide either for Senate or Governor and now it appears she may have a fight on her hands to keep the position she currently holds. 

Three GOP US Representatives, Neil Dunn (R-Panama City), Brian Mast (R-Palm City), and Greg Steube (R-Sarasota), jointly endorsed Army Bronze Star recipient Cory Mills (R) who recently announced his challenge to Rep. Murphy. The move suggests that legislators will target the 7th District in the redistricting process for a return to the Republican column. With neighboring Rep. Val Demings (D-Orlando) running for Senate and a new seat likely headed for the Orlando area, the GOP map drawers should have the opportunity of making Rep. Murphy’s 7th District more Republican.

GA-6: It has been speculated upon for some time that Georgia Ethics Commission chairman Jake Evans (R) would challenge two-term Rep. Lucy McBath (D-Marietta) in the 2022 congressional race. Early this week, Mr. Evans resigned from his position, which is likely the first step in him becoming a candidate. He might find an already difficult task becoming even harder, however. 

Expect the 6th District to be drawn more heavily Democratic in redistricting to tip the adjoining 7th CD of freshman Rep. Carolyn Bourdeaux (D-Suwanee) to the Republican column. GOP legislators, who control the redistricting process, will likely attempt to regain one of the two Atlanta metro seats lost to the Democrats by conceding one in order to enhance a Republican challenge in the other district.

IA-2: The 2020 election cycle did not turn out well for former Democratic state Senator and 2018 Lt. Governor nominee Rita Hart, as she ended up losing the open congressional race by a miniscule six votes to freshman House member Mariannette Miller-Meeks (R-Ottumwa). Now, the political tea leaves are suggesting Ms. Hart will not return for a re-match. A local Iowa political blog is suggesting the Democratic leadership is looking at freshman state Rep. Christina Bohannan (D-Iowa City) as a potential congressional candidate. Ms. Bohannan is a law professor at the University of Iowa outside of her legislative duties.

NM-2: Earlier in the week, it was learned that President Biden is going to appoint former US Rep. Xochitl Torres Small (D-NM) to a position in the US Department of Agriculture. Ms. Torres Small accepting the post will likely take her away from attempting to reclaim the congressional seat she lost in November to freshman Rep. Yvette Harrell (R-Alamogordo) after serving one term. 

New Mexico’s 2nd District is the state’s southern seat where the oil and gas industry is a key employer. Right of center outside organizations and Ms. Harrell effectively used the energy issue to oust Rep. Torres Small, 54-46%, and was one of the seats that fell to the GOP after then-candidate Joe Biden confirmed in the second presidential debate that his long-term goal was to eliminate the fossil fuel industry.

NY-22: The nation’s second-closest congressional race, New York Rep. Claudia Tenney’s (R-New Hartford) 109 vote victory over then-Rep. Anthony Brindisi (D-Utica), also won’t see a re-match. Late this week, Mr. Brindisi said he would not return to challenge Rep. Tenney in what will be a very different district. 

With New York losing a congressional seat, it appears that this southwestern New York area, and particularly so with neighboring US Rep. Tom Reed (R-Corning) retiring, could witness two districts collapsed into one. Doing so, and both districts are way low on population so such a draw would likely pass legal muster, would likely make Rep. Tenney more vulnerable in a Republican primary than in the next general election.

PA-7: In the middle of this week, former Lehigh County Commissioner and manufacturing business owner Lisa Scheller (R) announced that she will return for a re-match with Rep. Susan Wild (D-Allentown) next year. The Congresswoman was re-elected on a 52-48% count. Redistricting will change this district, but it is probable that the Allentown-Bethlehem-Easton seat will remain a competitive CD.

Governor

Alabama: State Auditor Jim Zeigler (R), who had declared a 2018 Republican primary challenge to Gov. Kay Ivey but backed away before the candidate filing deadline, announced in the early part of this week that he is forming a 2022 gubernatorial exploratory committee. Mr. Zeigler said that if he can determine adequate financial backing exists for an intra-party challenge to the Governor, he will run, but chances are he will again find it difficult to mount enthusiasm among Republican donors and primary voters to unseat their current incumbent.

Maryland: Tom Perez, the former Democratic National Committee chairman who didn’t have much of a public role in President Biden’s election campaign and has not received any federal appointment, became the tenth Democrat to announce his candidacy for Governor of Maryland. The group is vying to replace Republican Gov. Larry Hogan who is ineligible to seek a third term. 

According to polling before Mr. Perez made his announcement, he was running third in the Democratic primary behind former Prince Georges County Executive Rushern Baker and state Comptroller Peter Franchot. The eventual Democratic nominee is favored to win the 2022 general election.

Massachusetts: State Sen. Sonia Chang-Diaz (D-Suffolk County), the daughter of America’s first Latino astronaut, Franklin Chang-Diaz, announced that she will enter the Democratic gubernatorial primary next year. Already in the race are former state Sen. Ben Downing and Harvard University professor Danielle Allen. Two-term Gov. Charlie Baker (R) has yet to make his political plans known for the 2022 election cycle. If he chooses to run, the Governor will be favored to win re-election once more as a Republican in this most Democratic of states.

New Jersey: A New Jersey gubernatorial poll was released testing the new Governor’s race between incumbent Phil Murphy (D) and former state Assemblyman Jack Ciattarelli (R). Their respective partisan electorates nominated both in the June 8th primary election.

According to the Fairleigh Dickinson University survey conducted soon after the primary (6/9-16; 803 NJ likely general election voters; live interview), Gov. Murphy enjoys a 48-33% ballot test advantage. The Governor’s job approval rating stands at 50%, which is an eight-point improvement from his score the last time FDU asked the favorability question in relation to the Garden State Governor, which occurred in their February 2020 study.

Oregon: Gov. Kate Brown (D) is ineligible to seek a third term next year, but the Democratic side has been surprisingly quiet in terms of who might emerge to succeed her. The first official Democratic contender recently entered the gubernatorial race, and others are soon expected to follow. Yamhill County Commissioner Casey Kulla became the first Democratic candidate to formally announce. Oregon is a solidly blue political state meaning that the eventual Democratic nominee will be deemed at least the early favorite to keep the Governor’s office under party control.

Texas: Texas Agriculture Commissioner Sid Miller yesterday announced that he will seek re-election next year and not challenge Gov. Greg Abbott in the Republican primary. In the race against Gov. Abbott, however, are former state Senator Don Huffines and potentially recently resigned Texas Republican Party chairman and ex-Florida Congressman Allen West.

Also, Lina Hidalgo (D), who won the Harris County Judge (Executive) position in a 2018 upset in the Lone Star State’s largest county (over 4.62 million people), is being talked about in Democratic circles as a possible challenger to Gov. Greg Abbott. Ms. Hidalgo is not ruling out a statewide run, but at only 30 years old it is more likely that she will seek re-election to her current position.

While Ms. Hidalgo may not become a gubernatorial candidate in 2022, her long-term forecast to become one is bright. Therefore, she likely represents the top option on the Texas Democrats’ future political bench.

Cities

Buffalo; Rochester: Buffalo Mayor Byron Brown (D), running for a fifth four-year term, was defeated in this week’s Democratic primary, losing to self-described socialist India Walton. In Rochester, scandal-tainted incumbent Lovely Warren lost the Democratic nomination to at-large City Councilman Malik Evans by a landslide 2:1 margin. 

New York CityTuesday was election day in New York City, but the mayoral primary is a long way from being officially decided. Brooklyn Borough President Eric Adams, the favorite going into the Democratic primary, is the ten-point leader coming from the first partial count, but now must endure rounds of ranked-choice vote counting and absentee ballots still being received in order to determine the primary winner. Absentee ballots can still arrive all the way through June 29th. Under the New York counting system, it is likely a winner won’t be officially determined until approximately July 15tvxvxch.

If Mr. Adams survives the ranked-choice counts and reaches majority support, he will face Republican Curtis Sliwa in the general election. Mr. Sliwa, the founder of the 1970s organization, the Guardian Angels, easily won the Republican primary. The new GOP nominee will have little chance, however, in the general election.

Voting

S.1The legislation to nationalize America’s voting system, known as the “For the People Act,” cannot advance to a Senate floor vote at least in the short term. On a party-line 50-50 vote, with all Democrats voting to invoke cloture and all Republicans voting against, the bill was not allowed to proceed effectively killing it for the present time. We could see variations of it come up again in future legislative days, but it will take a major change to obtain 60 votes necessary to invoke cloture in order to proceed to a final floor vote.

Monmouth Poll: Monmouth University conducted a national survey about the concepts driving the national voting procedures debate. The survey (6/9-14; 810 US adults; live interview) finds that, in general, large majorities support making voting easier and requiring voter identification. By a 50-39% margin, the sampling universe believes mail voting should be simpler. A 71-16% majority thinks in-person voting should be less complicated. A total of 80% believe that voter identification should be required, including 84% from the segment categorizing people of color.